Over the weekend, undefeated Arthur Abraham won the vacant IBF middleweight title with a fifth round over Kingsley Ikeke (23-2 with 13KOs) in Lepzig, Germany, in front of 3500 people plus millions of viewers on live German TV coverage. Now 19-0 as a pro, Abraham established himself as one of the top middleweights in the world by taking the title recently vacated by world champion Jermain Taylor.
Abraham started the bout with his usual game plan: left punches to the body, then coming over his opponent's lowered guard with hard rights to the head. Ikeke's main weapon was his long jab but it was never a factor from the beginning, as the jab was always met by Abraham's strong defense. Ikeke expected a body attack, but Arthur feinted connecting again and again with hard shots to Ikeke's head.
Abraham dominated the whole fight. In round three, he sent an ironical smile at his opponent after a successful combination, and in the fourth, Abraham even dropped his fists after Ikeke tried to provoke him. "He said to me, I should have a go at it," said the new champion later at the press conference. "And then I took down my fists, in order to show him 'come on if you are so courageous.' That was his psychological ploy. I wanted to show him that he cannot impress me...."
In round five the fight was over at 1:46 of the round. Arthur hammered Ikeke´s head with a very strong left. The Canadian fighter staggered toward the ropes, and Arthur set after him with a final series of rights. In a classic knockout, Ikeke sunk to the ground and Abraham was the new IBF middlweight titleholder.
"He is a very strong fighter and earned the win," said Ikeke after the fight. "I had naturally visualized something else. The punch surprised me, but up until then I saw myself even...." Despite this Ikeke's statement all three judges saw it differently - having Arthur in front on all the scoring cards.
Afterwards, Abraham and his trainer Ulli Wegner were overcome with emotion in the ring. Abraham said, "I have always dreamed of becoming world champion. Today my childhood dream came true. I am the happiest person in the world. These four-and-a-half rounds were the wages for four months of hard work. I want to thank the people who were so important to me on this success, my trainer Ulli Wegner and my manager Wilfried Sauerland."
Sauerland, the president of Sauerland Events GmbH (in Germany it is permissible to serve as a manger and promoter to a boxer simultaneously), indicated there could be some exciting future boutd for Abraham. "Naturally our center is Germany, but why not, for example while the World Cup (soccer) is running, have Arthur box in the USA? Of course, the most interesting fight for our public here in Germany would be Arthur against Felix Sturm" Mr. Sauerland said. "Sturm gives very self-confident interviews - perhaps he dares...."